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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: 'Feast or famine' conditions noticeable with early-fall patterns
Eric Aldrich
Local bass angler Eric Aldrich poses with a fish he caught. - photo by For The Times

Lake Lanier’s water level continues to hold steady at just above full pool at 1,071.18 or .18 feet above the normal full pool of 1,071. 

The main lake is mostly clear. The creeks and up lake rivers are stained from rain water inflow.

Lake Lanier’s surface temperatures are in the low 80’s. 

This Labor Day weekend will signal the last really busy days of the year.

Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is clear. Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.  

Bass fishing has been hit and miss this past week. It seems easy to catch fish some days. Other days, anglers have had to work hard just to get a few bites. We are entering the late summer period. It seems to be more like the early fall period. 

Right now is a time of fishing feast or famine. 

Depending on weather conditions and dam generation schedules, we are experiencing a lull in the action between 8:30-10 am. 

This does not mean you can’t catch bass during this time. It’s just been my observation that the action has been slow during the middle of the mornings.

As the sun gets higher in the sky, we have started to witness small groups of bass chasing blueback herring as well as smaller shad on the surface. 

This action seems to occur over and around planted brush piles located at 20-40 feet deep. 

If possible, try to match your lures to the forage these bass are eating. 

Normal topwater plugs like a Zara Spook, Sammy or even an IMA Skimmer are good choices if the bass are on a herring bite. 

If the bass are targeting shad, then smaller offerings like a Zara Puppy, SPRO Popper or subsurface lures rigged with a 3 1/2-inch Big Bites Suicide Shad on a Fish Head Spin.

A great option to cover the best of both worlds is to cast a clear lure, like a Gunfish or Spook and attach a No. 4 Gamakatsu Feathered Treble hook placed on the back of the lure. The bass will see the ruckus on the surface and will hone in on these white feathered treble hooks that look like the smaller shad.

There is a discontinued lure called a Front Runner that you can tie on in front of a topwater plug that mimics a small shad being chased across the surface. You can occasionally locate these lures on eBay, in old tackle store bins or garage sales.

We have also been catching a few extra bass on a dropshot rigged with a Big Bites or Lanier Baits Finesse Worm.  

Watch your Lowrance Electronics and look for the tell-tale signs of lines or arcs that show fish directly below the boat.

Our night trips have been good. Stick with a SPRO RkCrawler or Little John DD. Fish the rocky banks around main lake creek mouths.

Stripers also seem to be on early fall patterns in this years late summertime. 

We have been marking smaller, less-concentrated schools in the creek and ditch channels over a 30-50 foot bottom from Gainesville Marina all the way on down to Buford Dam. 

These fish are relating to bait schools or herring and shad. 

The stripers that are chasing herring are moving around quickly. 

The fish that are keyed in on shad will stay put in an area much longer.

We have witnessed some greener water color that almost looks like lake turnover. My Lowrance Electronics still show a water temperature change a little shallower at around 25-feet of water. 

Trolling Micro-Umbrella Rigs or a single large SPRO Bucktail on lead core line set out to eight colors remains a productive depth and a good way to cover water.

When you locate concentrations of stripers on your Lowrance Electronics, then it’s time to deploy your flat and down lines baited with herring, spot tail minnows or even large store-bought shiners. 

If you use flat lines, then attach a 1/4-ounce split shot about three feet above your hooks and set your lines out a little further to allow these herring to swim deeper. 

The stripers have been hanging around from 30-50 feet over creek depressions, ditches and on the inside of timberlines.

Make sure you keep plenty of live bait on hand. 

When you find stripers keyed in on smaller baits, the bites can be fast and furious. Switch out your baits frequently but after doing so drop your down lined offerings or even large spoons and power reel them through the fish to trigger reaction bites from stripers.

Crappie fishing has really been slow, but some anglers are catching enough for a fish fry. Get on the water early or later in the day and shoot light crappie jigs or fish down lines around brush from on light line around docks with brush from 15-30 feet deep.

Getting out to the bridges after dark will produce some good action. 

Set out floating or Hydro Glow Lights and fish small jigs or live spot tail minnows from 15-20 feet deep.

Bank fishing: Fishing for pan fish is a great way to introduce kids and adults alike to the sport of fishing. 

Brim will bite a variety of baits and lures, but it’s hard to beat an old reliable earth worm. 

With all the recent rain, the earth worms are a prime target for pan fish.

Digging up worms is half the fun and kids will enjoy this process almost as much as actually fishing. 

My mom made a point of letting me play with worms, lizards and other critters so that I would not fear nature.

Dig up earth around mulch piles, gardens and leaves and place them in an old coffee can.

A big mistake that many anglers make is to add snaps, swivels or to attach large hooks for these smaller pan fish. 

Use a small Aberdeen style hook and cover it entirely with an earth worm. 

Attach a bobber about a foot or two above the hook and cast it around laydowns, rocks or docks both in farm and subdivision pounds or on Lake Lanier and wait until the bobber goes down or starts to swim away.

Eric Aldrich is an outdoor writer, marketing specialist and bass angler. Reports are based on personal experience and permission from a close network of friends. He would love to hear from readers, so please email me at

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